The value of a species: the whooping crane conservation paradox

The endangered Whooping Crane is one of the world’s rarest species, with only around 600 individuals, including one wild self-sustaining population (French et al., 2018). Reintroduced populations have had limited success, largely due to low hatching success. One multi-year study demonstrates the role that some endemic species of black flies play in Whooping crane nest desertion. This work also illustrates how conservation approaches should evaluate trade-offs and utilize a decision-analysis framework to construct management strategies that incorporate the needs of all endemic species, rather than pining the value of one species above the other.

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The human-leopard conflict in India… who are the victims?

Conflicts between humans and leopards in India have increased in frequency over the past few decades, due to habitat fragmentation and a decrease in human tolerance towards wildlife. To assess the long-term effects of this conflict, researchers studied two distinct regions in India to track the opinions of local communities on leopards. The researchers compared local sentiment about leopards to records and found that local opinions are related to distance from leopard habitat and history of attacks: the region in which humans live in closest proximity to the leopards’ habitat (Pauri), has had many more attacks and people hold much more negative views towards leopards.

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Let’s Paint the Town Green!

Many places around the world are searching for ways to balance a growing population while also caring for the environment. Developers, policymakers, and citizens everywhere are concerned with maintaining biodiversity while developing economies and building homes and businesses for humans. New research from the European Union aims to balance the use of ecosystem services and conservation efforts by introducing green infrastructure. This new way to look at land use can have important implications for the future of development and policy-making in the European Union, and throughout the world.

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The biodiversity emergency: what can we all do?

There is a biodiversity crisis. The repercussions of species and habitat loss are everywhere: Animals (giant pandas or bees), and places (coral reefs), are experiencing negative human-related impacts. This means more than just loss of physical beauty; all habitats and species are interconnected, so a loss of something as seemingly small as a bee population will reduce pollination of plants that we eat. There is hope of recovery, but it begins by motivating people to help. As the world is becoming more urbanized and disconnected from nature, where does motivation for environmental conservation and stewardship come from?

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Captive breeding: Saving species from extinction or sending them there?

In the midst of the sixth mass extinction, conservation efforts are more important now than ever. Captive breeding programs aim to supplement wild populations with individuals born in captivity. Seems great, right? Well… maybe. Despite good intentions, captive breeding and release programs can have permanent harmful effects on the world’s most vulnerable species. This recent study explores the demographic and genetic effects of a common conservation practice.

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Genetics and bee conservation: telling the full story of a species’ decline

We’ve all probably watched bees engage in pollination as they move from flower to flower collecting pollen. This process is essential to the reproduction of many plants, including crops. When most people think of pollinators, they think of the honey bee (Apis mellifera). However, more than 20,000 species of bees have been described—all of which are pollinators! In fact, honey bees are actually native to southeast Asia and have spread across the globe due to human activities, potentially competing with other bees. Despite the honey bee’s ubiquity and popularity, native bees are important pollinators because ecological adaptations that differ from those of honey bees. For example, the tongues of many native bees such as bumble bees can reach the nectar of longer flowers for pollination better than the honey bee.

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Are your car’s windshield wipers helping your town’s stormwater management?

You decide to go out and run some errands on your day off, even though there is a chance of rain in the forecast. You are just starting your 30-minute walk back to your house and get caught in a torrential downpour. You are now forced to call a ride-share because you know the stream next to the path on your way back will likely flood and you would have to take the long way home. Once in the car, you are happy you do not have to walk in the rain. Little do you know, the car you are in may actually help improve rainfall maps and with that urban stormwater management. How? The car’s windshield wipers are turned on!

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Alaskan Megathrust Earthquakes: Sedimentary records provide new data and a look 2000 years into the past

In 1964, a historically unprecedented magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The earthquake prompted scientists to figure out that the Aleutians lie along a unique form of fault, now known as a “megathrust” fault. During a megathrust earthquake, large swaths of land suddenly rise or sink, depending on their location relative to the fault rupture. Over long periods of time, as tectonic plates slide under one another, compression causes the top plate to buckle and rise up along the coast. When enough energy is accumulated, a slip eventually occurs. In places that were being uplifted, the land suddenly falls a few meters as the strain is released, otherwise known as an earthquake. It has been thought that areas of uplift and subsidence remain constant, always rising or falling in exactly the same place with every earthquake. However, a recent study suggests that these areas are not constant, further complicating our understanding of how “megathrust” earthquakes occur.

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津波: The Story of the Wave

If you’re lucky, there are five minutes between when a tsunami alarm sounds and when the wave hits. Too often those five minutes are not enough, and the fate of a coastline is at the tsunami’s mercy. Understanding tsunami cause and occurrence is vital for coastal communities. Read on to learn more about tsunami records and how they play a role in shaping natural disaster planning.

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Is climate change increasing the number of hurricanes we get and will we continue seeing more hurricane damage?

Recent climate change science has shown that since 500 AD the current levels of storm activity are the most active. The increased activity combined with rising sea levels has the potential to cause more damage than ever before. Although Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever recorded storm, stronger than Sandy and Katrina combined, occurred in the Pacific, the Atlantic can see events similar in the future.

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